Posted by: Jennifer | July 28, 2007

when animals have pets

Traditionally, a pet is owned by a human. This is not always the case, though.

Koko is a gorilla that lives in California. She is famous for her ability to communicate with the outside world using sign language. She also has her own pets.

In the summer of 1984, Koko asked her trainer, Dr. Francine ‘Penny’ Patterson for a cat. Koko selected a gray male Manx from a litter of abandoned kittens and named it All Ball. This breed is unusual in that it has no tail, and researchers wondered whether that fact influenced Koko’s choice. Koko cared for the kitten as if it were a baby gorilla. In December of that same year, All Ball escaped from Koko’s cage and was hit and killed by a car.

Later, upon learning that All Ball had gone, Koko communicated with her trainers using the sign language symbols for “cry” and “sad.” Researchers noted this fact in the debate over whether non-human species can have human-like emotions. It has been said that Koko cried for two days after the event.

In 1985, Koko was allowed to pick out two new kittens from a litter to be her companions. The animals she chose, later named “Lipstick” and “Smokey,” were also Manxes like All Ball.



  1. Koko is truly an amazing case but I don’t believe she is an anomaly. My pets are very attached to each other and to their guest pets. We lost our pet family Guardian – a 12 year old German Shepherd in June. Max was the caretaker and peacemaker for the group until he became too old and then the other cats and dog/s looked out for him. I wish you success on your effort and maybe this very small comment will inspire someone else to offer a post. Blessings. wendy

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